I know of a few different methods people use to teach factoring, but I’ve never been a fan of the “fancy” methods. They just don’t work for me. When I teach factoring, I actually teach the unit backwards. I teach factoring by grouping, factoring trinomials when a≠1, factoring trinomials when a=1, then special cases.

I start with factoring by grouping, because once students can do that, factoring trinomials is easy. I tend to spend an extra day teaching factoring by grouping. When students have that down, I move on to factoring trinomials. I prefer teaching when a≠1 first, because when a=1 is really just a special case. If students can handle the “harder” version, there almost isn’t a need to teach the “easier” version.

So, this is how I teach factoring. This is not revolutionary. It is not new, or even interesting. But it works, every time. I've often heard this method called "splitting the middle".

First, I have students multiply the “a” value by the “c” value.

Then, I tell them they are looking for two numbers that multiply to that value. I have them make a list.

Only after that do I have them find the pair of numbers that adds to the “b” value.

Next, I have students split the middle and finish by factoring by grouping. So, example student work for the example would look like this:

I prefer to teach factoring this way because it doesn’t rely on tricks and it works every time. Also, after this lesson, teaching a=1 is just a special case.

I use the same method when teaching factoring, although I LOVE that you teach the a=1 case after because I always have a student or two who get confused between the two strategies. I think that would help a lot. Thanks!

ReplyDeleteI do this in a similar manner, but when I have them do the factor by grouping I have them put it into an area model. The graphic organizer helps them to see where the common factors are. It works for solving quadratics where a is not 1 as well as cubic expressions that can be factored by grouping. It's also a method I teach to multiply polynomials for those who need their work to be more organized than just distributing.

ReplyDeleteGreat strategy. I enjoy the hands on method of teaching quadratics using Mortenson math blocks. I had some of my own personal "ah, ha" moments playing around with quadratics.

ReplyDeleteI teach special education students and use this same method, in the same order. Your'e right. It works every time. I find I rarely have to teach a=1 because they don't see it as any different. When you multiply a*c, it doesn't matter if a=7 or a=1.

ReplyDeleteI've been doing this for a few years - it also makes it easier when you have to go into factoring four or more terms because they already know how to factor by grouping

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